Jenna Belden

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... a little background: 

The colorful history of Truckee dates back to 1894, when the Stephen- Townsend-Murphy party was migrating west, trying to cross the Sierra be- fore winter set in. A friendly Paiute Indian offered assistance in guiding the party to California. His name sounded like "Tro-kay" to the white men, who dubbed him "Truckee". Truckee became a favorite of the white settlers after finding his intentions to be honest and true. Truckee was an Indian Chief  and the father of Winnemucca. The party reached the lower crossing of a river near what is now Wadsworth and named it the Truckee River. Captain Stephen of the Party, discovered Donner Lake.  It was called Truckee’s  Lake in 1846 when the ill-fated Donner Party camped there.

The Donner Party was part of a great western migration that began in 1846. (Read all about their tragic tale on the next page). The Donner Party reached this area in October 1846, and their tragic fate, combined with its  tenacious  pioneer  spirit,  is  commemorated  at  their  campsite  at  what  is  now  Donner  State   Park.

In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad was built through Truckee as part of the transcontinental railroad; the line remains a vital part of the town today. The building of the railroad created what was then known as the "second-largest Chinatown" on the Pacific Coast. Although essential to the railroad construction, the Chinese were never assimilated into the town, and Chinatown was burned at least four times. In 1879, after the last burning, tensions were near the breaking point and the Chinese began to arm themselves. They were prevented from rebuilding on their previous site and were forcefully "persuaded" to build across the south side of the river. Tensions eased until the 1880's, when the American Workingmen's movement coalesced under the slogan "'The Chinese must go". The Chinese, who had played such a key role in railroad construction, threatened to monopolize the local logging industry. In early 1886, the white citizens of Truckee banded together to rid the town of the Chinese. Within nine weeks, the industrious Chinese had been completely driven from the community, so thoroughly that for generations no Chinese would be found in or near Truckee.

Logging has been a key industry in Truckee over the past century, along with the railroad. In the late 1800's, the town gained a reputation as a wild Old West town, with plenty of saloons and a red-light district. After the 1920's, Truckee began a 40-year period of little growth and development, particularly during and after the War years. Finally in 1960, the Winter Olympics were held at Squaw Valley, putting the Truckee-Tahoe area on the map as a major destination resort for year-round recreation.

Tourism has become the town's largest industry. An active group of citizens have preserved much of the original architecture of Truckee. The town has also retained its down home friendliness, unique close community along with its Western charm.